About a month ago, as I sat in my home watching the Grammys and the camera panned to Ben Affleck and his wife, Jennifer Lopez, I momentarily feared I was watching a hostage video: Affleck appeared visibly miserable, not once, but pretty much every time he and Lopez appeared onscreen—to the extent that his dour expression had become a meme before the award ceremony even ended.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Thursday, Affleck was determined to set the record straight. He said that he actually had a “good time” at the Grammys—though he specified that he regarded the evening merely as his “wife’s work event.” (That’s genuinely so funny.) As for why he looked so displeased, Affleck offered a pretty understandable explanation: He was anxious about being involved in any kind of bit Grammys host Trevor Noah was doing.
“I saw [Noah approach] and I was like, ‘Oh, god,’” Affleck said. He then says he joked to Lopez, “As soon they start rolling, I’m going to slide away from you and leave you sitting next to Trevor.” According to Affleck, Lopez responded, “‘You better f–king not leave’—that’s a husband-and-wife thing,” he explained.
As it turned out, Noah didn’t involve the couple in any skit of sorts; the former Daily Show comedian merely chose their table to sit down and pretend he was on the phone with his mom following Sam Smith’s live performance of “Unholy.” (“Mom, it wasn’t the actual devil. No, they were just dressed as the devil, Mom,” he said on the phone.)
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Clearly to Affleck’s relief, he and Lopez weren’t forced to participate in Noah’s improv activity. And he’s hardly the only celeb to dread the prospect of being roped into a bit: See: Nicole Kidman’s visible relief, captured in GIF form, when Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel passed her row while doing an interactive audience bit on Sunday:
In the days after the Grammys, Affleck’s expressions fueled a very silly news cycle: The “seat-filler” who shared a table with the couple had to give interviews and reassure us that Lopez and Affleck actually love each other. “Body language experts” and “lip readers” claimed Affleck looked glum because Lopez was trying to “control” him. All of this because Affleck wasn’t smiling ear-to-ear in a couple of shots!
I’d argue the real takeaway from all of this is that hosts should be prohibited from instigating interactive audience bits at any awards show, whether it’s the Grammys or your fourth grader’s class honor roll ceremony. No audience member has ever wanted to be roped into that shit—that’s why they’re in the audience! An alternate explanation: Affleck suffers from a tragic case of RBF—resting bitch face, or, perhaps, resting Ben face. In that case, he can’t help it!!